Apple Caramel Hand Pies

Apple Caramel Hand Pies

Thanksgiving is over and now it’s Christmas season!

Do you even know how much I look forward to what I informally think of as “cookie month”?

Yet…for all the delights of Christmas cookies, sometimes it’s a little sad to say goodbye to pie week.

So why not make your pies into cookies? Ease the transition a little.

Plus, these are delicious (okay, that’s only hearsay. I don’t eat apples. But seriously, they disappeared in a twinkling).

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Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots

You guys! Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a week away?

And I’ve been whiling away the last week with meals I’ve thrown together from random things in the fridge, rather than setting out purposefully to share some delicious Thanksgiving ideas with you. Oops. Sorry!

So. I have a question.

What is the one side dish that makes your Thanksgiving table complete?

I am not sure I have a true answer to this question. Honestly, the only thing I need to have a happy Thanksgiving is pecan pie. But as I have grown up and my tastebuds have grown up with me, I have learned that brussels sprouts are basically the most delicious fall vegetables on Earth.

I am basically going to insist that you make these. Set aside your casseroles and roasted root veggies. Brussels sprouts are the showstopping side dish this Thanksgiving!

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Mini Kale Soufflés

Mini Kale Souffles

Sometimes I get silly ideas.

Like…let’s take this extra bag of kale greens I bought and turn it into soufflé. Easy peasy.

I had never actually made soufflé before. Like any sensible person, I had a deep and abiding fear of soufflé. But then I figured that savory soufflé would be easier than the dreaded chocolate…maybe more forgiving somehow? Kind of like making a really fancy omelet? Plus, I don’t have an actual soufflé dish, so I was going to be making individual-size ramekins. Also seems easier, right?

As it turns out, although these soufflés made roughly half the dishes in my kitchen dirty, they were not at all traumatizing to make! In fact, I would totally do it again, because not only did my kale-hating husband enjoy these (thank you, Gruyère and eggs), but my 1-year-old ate almost an entire soufflé by himself (he may or may not have shrieked and begged for more after finishing the last bite)! Success.

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CSA Week 20: Butternut Mac and Cheese

Butternut Mac and Cheese

Okay, this post is totally late in coming. But I was a little bit preoccupied. (And yes, it did take me almost a week to recover from throwing the best baby birthday party ever.)

Anyway, from the last week of CSA produce ever (er…at least for this year), I am sharing with you the most delicious macaroni and cheese ever.

Did you know that mac and cheese is one of my favorite foods? And yet, in two and a half years of blogging, I have never once made it for you. That’s because I am a mac and cheese snob. That’s right. You heard me.

I have spent the last two years trying to perfect the absolute best mac and cheese recipe (gouda, asiago, ad pecorino with a dash of truffle oil…yum). But I realized, this is just like the time I thought there was only one perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Which is completely silly! Which, of course, means I have been remiss!

When I found a recipe for butternut squash mac and cheese, which is so trendy and so different from the rich bechamel sauces I had been obsessed with, I was so excited!

This mac and cheese is full of flavor. And the weird thing is it doesn’t really taste like squash at all! There is just a tinge of sweetness and warmth from the cayenne and nutmeg. But mostly, the macaroni tastes cheesy and salty from the parmesan and pecorino and just a little nutty from the gruyère.

Super yum.

Enjoy the last week of CSA for 2013!

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CSA Week 19: Pumpkin-Apple Bread Pudding

Pumpkin-Apple Bread Pudding

Folks…this recipe and I did not play nicely together.

Truly, it wasn’t the recipe’s fault! (And don’t stop reading, because this bread pudding is extremely delicious, I promise, and I will eventually tell you about it!)

I think I may have lost my mojo or something. For weeks now, almost everything I lay my hands on has turned out a little…off. I have mandolined myself and microplaned myself (ouch)…I have baked and rebaked (is that a word?) countless times. Honestly. I am a disaster.

And true to form, my husband generally takes one bite of my awkward dishes and proclaims that he likes them better this way than however they were supposed to turn out. No, he is not just saying that to be nice. He actually does like things better when they are a little wacky. It’s perverse. It makes it hard to evaluate whether something new was actually successful.

Take this bread pudding, for example, which I found when I was trolling through Bizzy Bakes for an SRC recipe this month.

It was so cool to me that Bizzy made a gluten- and dairy-free bread pudding. Way to push boundaries! My mom follows a wheat-free, dairy-free diet, so I especially appreciate finding recipes that would work for her. But…I also like to save my more expensive alternative flours and non-dairy milks for times when she will be around to enjoy dessert with me, so I knew right off the bat that I would be changing things up a little.

I thought I would be all cool and snazz the bread pudding up by adding pumpkin and using only egg yolks and baking in a bain marie. Ha. Ha. Ha.

By the time my Bible study group showed up, I was still panicking about how the top of my “pudding” was crispy (erm, not enough custard) and the bottom was soupy (sooooo didn’t need a water bath for this). But they literally gobbled it up. I mean…one guy liked it so much, he was batting people away from the dish, trying to keep more for himself. And, of course, Dave said he liked it better than a real bread pudding.

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Mrs. Smith’s Pumpkin Yeast Rolls

Pumpkin Yeast Rolls

One of my college friends has a terrific mom. She is such an excellent hostess—she remembers every conversation we’ve ever had, no matter how long ago; she works hard to make sure everyone who comes to her house has something delicious to eat that suits their dietary restrictions; she has a warm, welcoming spirit; and best of all…she makes amAZING rolls. I have literally eaten meals almost entirely composed of her rolls.

A few years ago, she was gracious enough to share the recipe with me.

This pumpkin version has become a staple at my house, and I know you will love them, too! Happy pumpkin season!

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CSA Week 19: Curly Kale Salad

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Kale is beautiful.

I bought some kale a few weeks ago at the farmer’s market so I could make a kale salad. I was so excited! Sarah came over and she got excited, too! But the recipe I had was a little weirdly written…and to make a long story short, there was too much dressing. Tooooooo much. Slimy kale salad. Gross.

But I got kale two weeks in a row from CSA! So I tried again!

You may be scared of raw kale. But I promise, this salad is delicious! Just try it. I know you’ll be glad you did!

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CSA Week 18: Butternut and Arugula Quinoa

I have a lot of squash in my house.

Like. A lot.

And one of the easiest ever ways to use up fall squash is to roast it and toss it into a grain salad with some greens and cheese. I have been a little reluctant to share this with you, because I feel like this particular combination isn’t terribly original. Quinoa salad. Been there, done that.

But you know what? Sometimes the familiar is just what we need. Sometimes simple food with bright colors and flavors is comforting.

Sarah of Well Dined came over and made this lunch with me. We added in things that are delicious and left out things that are not. Easy peasy.

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CSA Week 17: Winging It

Winging It

Sometimes I look in my fridge and think, “Why is there nothing to eat!?” As I am staring at the shelves piled high with perfectly good food, nothing seems like it would come together quickly, and none of my produce and dairy products and leftovers seem even remotely able to work together.

Does that ever happen to you?

Earlier this week when I found myself facing just such a dilemma, I forbade myself to eat cereal for dinner and reluctantly pulled some of my CSA goodies out and set them on the counter.

So let’s talk about winging it. Because the perfect recipe isn’t always sitting right in front of you!

The key to winging it is thinking back to what you have made and liked in the past. We are smack dab in the middle of fall, so of course we need to use up some fall squash. I love squash roasted, with a little bit of spice, tossed into a grain or green salad, with a hefty dose of yummy cheese. How do you like your squash? Maybe stuffed? or turned into soup? or sliced and sautéed?

The beautiful thing about cooking is that you don’t have to stress over the proportions the same way you must with baking. You can tinker with it until it works! Just rely on familiar methods, add things you know you like, and everything will work out fine!

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